2022 was a year of great challenges, but even greater triumphs.
The pandemic created product shortages everywhere. Inflation was skyrocketing in wood and concrete. There were shortages in drivers, engineers, labourers and all other building trades. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued new safety guidance for mast climbers.
It was in the midst of all of this that BFT pulled together, improved equipment, forged new partnerships, challenged the scaffolding status quo, and even set new records for utilisation.
Overcoming the Labour Shortage
BFT felt price increase pressures, but as a rental business, our exposure was limited. We felt the pressure from labour shortages more acutely.
Some of our drivers stayed with us and some did not. Some left and then returned to BFT. Whilst other businesses frown upon re-employment, we embrace it. Sometimes an employee has to go look elsewhere. If they want to come back, we welcome them and the experience they have gained.
Shortages of materials and labour meant that, although BFT’s order book was strong, many projects were delayed. That was until May when all sites decided to start. At the same time.
Thanks to the coordination and organisation of our team we were able to deliver, despite the challenging timing.
Throughout the year, we heard from main contractors, time and time again, about the pressure they were under, and how mast climbing work platforms helped.
With labour shortages and cost increasing for scaffolding, mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs) helped to get their projects moving.
Responding to The HSE Safety Alert
In May we were contacted by the HSE with concerns about the safety of MCWPs. As industry leaders we took on board the concerns of the HSE and quickly ensured our fleet was fully compliant with the new standards.
A massive effort from all departments addressed all concerns in record time. Now, thanks to our continued work in this area, we have the safest and only fully compliant fleet of mast climbers in the UK.
Because mast climbers are our core business, we have the experience, engineering support, and supply chain to ensure we can react to these changes in real time.
Setting New Records
From mid-year, we have seen our order bank, intake, and “work in hand” increase exponentially.
“Equipment on hire” has also increased. Utilisation went from a low of nearly 50% to a high of over 75% in 2022 - a new record.
2022 also saw the re-launch of our dedicated Hoist department. Over £1m was invested in this department throughout the year. We saw our fleet utilisation go from 0 to 95% in Q2 and Q3. Our hoist fleet represents quality and value. We are very excited about this new offering.
As we challenge the industry bias for scaffolding, we see more and more companies realise the benefits of mast climbers. From the optimal positioning for tradespeople which prevents musculoskeletal injury to the cost savings and setup efficiency – there are many strengths of mast climbers that the industry is starting to recognise.
This is helping residents in high-rise residential buildings during the nationwide recladding efforts. Whereas scaffolding blocks sunlight and traps heat during hot summer months, mast climbers leave residents relatively undisturbed.
Looking Forward to 2023
As we start 2023 demand has increased again.
We started 2022 with 750 MCWPs on hire. We started 2023 with over 1,200 mast climbers on hire and utilisation approaching 80%. Partnerships are forming and others continue to cement as we deliver the best service available.
But we keep hearing about recession. Whilst we are by no means complacent, demand for our products shows no signs of slowing down.
We are incredibly excited. Our order bank is stronger than ever. Our fleet is in top shape. Our dedicated engineering staff and facilities are paying dividends. Our sales team is delivering again and again.
So others may talk of recession but BFT will continue to strive forward.
We are looking to serving our clients, forming new partnerships, and continuing to help the industry build more economically and safely. We also hope to change perception, and overcome the industries bias for scaffolding, which often is not the best choice for residents, workers, or clients.
Here’s to a great year.